Hugh McCluggage handballs during Brisbane's clash against Melbourne in round 16, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

BRISBANE coach Chris Fagan played a rarely used card at half-time on Friday night with devastating results, helping to spark his team's comeback win over Melbourne.

With the Lions trailing by 23 points and their midfield being outworked and outplayed, Fagan got personal.

LIONS v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats

He put the half-time statistics of Hugh McCluggage (nine disposals), Lachie Neale (10) and Josh Dunkley (13) up on the team's whiteboard. 

Alongside them, he listed the numbers for Demons opponents Clayton Oliver (15), Jack Viney (13) and Trent Rivers (13).

"I said, 'Boys, we need a lift'," Fagan said, following Brisbane's five-point win.

"And to their credit, they gave us a massive lift in the second half.


"That just goes to show you what great character they have.

"They've been up and firing for three weeks in a row now and probably had a little downer, but the good thing is they found a way in that second half and ended up being our best players."

And that they did.


All three had 19 disposals in the second half to overwhelm their opponents and give Brisbane much-needed territory.

Dunkley finished with 32 touches and seven clearances, Neale with 29 and six, while McCluggage's 28 included the match-winning goal inside the final 90 seconds.

Fagan said it was a coaching tactic he "rarely" used.

"But I thought it was necessary," he said.


"What I do know about those blokes is they do respond when you do that to them, particularly when you don't use it as a method every single time things aren't working out.

"I thought it was appropriate, and they responded, so it just shows their character."


Brisbane's fourth consecutive win has vaulted it into the top eight, although it will need another result or two over the weekend to remain there at the end of round 16.

After trailing from midway through the second quarter, the home team squandered chance after chance in the final term, with Eric Hipwood overshooting a handball when an open goal beckoned and Charlie Cameron dropping a simple mark adjacent to the goalsquare.

But the Lions found a way.

"We haven't won a game this year when we've been behind at three-quarter time," Fagan said.

"That's an important part about being a good team … that you can win from behind when you're struggling a bit. We'll take a lot of confidence from that.

"It was a really important win in our season."


Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said he was "incredibly disappointed" with the result.

The Demons kicked eight of their 11 goals in a devastating second quarter to blow the game open.

For the second straight week, though, they failed to kick a goal in the final term and this week, could not hold off the opposition.

"It was a game there for the taking and we walk away losing," Goodwin said.


"In reality we went a bit safe. Big occasion, a lot of young players playing. We probably just went into our shell a bit.

"There's a bit to unpack in that last quarter … whether we go into our shells a bit late in the game.

"That's two weeks, there's evidence to suggest we need to have a look at it, and we will."